We bet you didn’t know that National Bike Week, the annual celebration of all things pedal-powered, is over 90 years old? Pathe News has recently digitised 90,000 news film clips, including this footage of the first-ever National Bicycle Week, way back in 1923.
As you can see there was still an Ordinary or two kicking around, as well as wooden boneshakers and the odd front-pedalled bike, but the vast majority wouldn’t be out of place on the streets of Hackney, Cambridge or York today.
Otherwise, though, 1923 seems like a different planet. The first Le Mans 24-hour race was held; Henri Pélissier won the Tour de France despite organiser Henri Desgrange’s prediction two years before that he never would — Pélissier was shot dead 12 years later by his lover, with the revolver his wife had used to commit suicide; Vladimir K. Zworykin filed his first patent (in the United States) for "television systems"; and the Hollywood sign went up in Los Angeles. You couldn’t legally get a drink there though as Prohibition was still in force and would not be repealed for another decade.
In politics, Germany suffered its worst hyperinflation; Adolf Hitler led the unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch attempt to overthrow the Bavarian government; the British Mandate for Palestine created a Jewish homeland under British administration; Turkey became a republic with Kemal Atatürk as its first president; and Lenin retired from his post as Chairman of the Soviet government after his third stroke, leading eventually to Joseph Stalin’s ascendency as leader of the Soviet Union.
Back in the present day, this year’s Bike Week runs June 14-22 and includes organised rides, events such as Edinburgh Festival of Cycling and London’s World Naked Bike Ride, Dr Bike repair advisors in towns and cities and lots more.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.